“Living In Fear”

All right. I’m thoroughly exasperated by this “I refuse to live in fear” bullshit. Here’s an open letter to all those wannabe heroes out there.

Photo by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash

Fear is defined as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” (Oxford Online Dictionary)

The ability to feel and recognize our fear is an enormous advantage, one we were evolved to experience. If our ancestors had been unable to feel and respond to fear, none of us would be alive today. The inability or unwillingness to listen to fear is a sure way to get deselected.

Yes, fear is an unpleasant feeling. Get over it. It helps us make choices that keep us alive. One of the best books out there on fear is Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear. Another author who understands the importance of fear in survival and resilience is Laurence Gonzales. A list of his work is on my bookshelves page.

Photo by Khoa Pham on Unsplash

Asserting that we refuse to be fearful is like saying we refuse to observe, learn, and use neurological information like “hot,” “cold,” “sharp,” and “pain.” Babies can do this, people!

Fear is pro-life and a rational response to a possible threat. Ignorance and denial are not. Responding appropriately to fear is a powerful life skill. It makes us tough. Willful ignorance and denial are weak and impotent,

I’ve written before about the OODA loop, an acronym for resilience that includes Observing the situation, Orienting oneself to the situation, Deciding how to respond and Acting. People with slow or broken OODA loops stand with their mouths agape watching tsunamis roll in, volcanoes erupt, shooters aiming at them and cars heading for them at speed, and they die.

Evolution in action.

Photo by Mar Newhall on Unsplash

“I refuse to live in fear” is pathetic nonsense. A more truthful statement would be “I refuse to be told what to do,” or, even better, “I’m shit scared and I don’t know how to deal with it.” Or how about “I’m afraid to face reality?” I suspect those are all closer to the truth. Denialism is not a successful life strategy, and neither is willful ignorance.

When I see people masking, I see resilience, adaptation, responsibility, a desire to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, and common kindness and courtesy for the most vulnerable among us. I see people learning and doing their best in a scary, difficult, rapidly changing situation. When I see unmasked people wearing pitying smiles or having toddler tantrums when asked to mask, I see a bunch of fearful pantywaist boneheads waiting for Darwin Awards.

You just can’t save people from themselves.

It’s hard to face reality. I get that. I’ve spent plenty of time in denial myself. The fact is, we can’t control life and death and the ebbing, flowing activity of viruses, which vastly outnumber us. There is no one to blame. Viruses do not conspire against us. We’re not that important. Learning curves are messy, and we can’t always get clear answers, nor do we “deserve” them. We are not the Kings of the Universe, above the natural laws that govern life. We are not entitled to be comfortable. Our needs, feelings and lives are not more important than anyone else’s, now or across the whole span of human history. Our beliefs don’t change what’s real.

Real life takes guts. I’m sorry if you don’t have them, but don’t pretend that’s courage. It’s not.

Nobody has asked me to live in fear, and I don’t, but I’m exceedingly grateful to live with the advantage of fear, because I’d like to go on living for a while. Fear is power, and I’m certainly strong enough to manage it. I’m also tough enough to deal with wearing a mask.

So go ahead. Refuse to “live in fear.” Throw tantrums. Be abusive. Display your ignorance on social media and elsewhere. Make the most of your contempt and outrage. Argue with what is. Increase the spread of coronavirus. I can’t stop you.

But you’re not a hero. Your cowardice is showing, and I’m embarrassed for you.

My daily crime.

Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

© 2020, Jenny Rose. All rights reserved.

13 thoughts on ““Living In Fear”

  1. Zoe

    You have GOT to be kidding me! So now you’re advocating obedience to a state body that lies, obfuscates and doesn’t give a damn about people, especially if they’re working poor? Time to give your head a shake and take off your mask of humiliation and shame. Read the Handmaid’s Tale. Read George Orwell’s 1984. We’re being played globally and if you don’t see that there’s something very wrong with you. Meditate, ask the right questions. Our elders have been slaughtered right before our very eyes and you want to tell people who refuse to mask that THEY are the problem? OMG – I can’t even. There is absolutely zero evidence that masks stop the spread of any virus. There’s no evidence that social distancing is helpful but what we DO know is that being distanced from people is soul crushing. We know that wearing a mask is detrimental to one’s health. Look up Agenda 21 FFS. We’re living in the UN Dystopian nightmare and you want people to fucking obey? That’s it for me – I can’t listen to you wing nuts anymore. Go ahead and be first in line for a vaccine that is being designed to depopulate the world – go ahead. And remember the holocaust.

    1. Jenny Rose Post author

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Zoe. This response perfectly illustrates my points. Have a great day!

  2. Constance tippett

    “Zero evidence that masks stop the spread”??? What about every other country in the world. Anyway, I loved your take on these crazy times and the crazy feelings that it brings up in everyone. I saw someone talking on what happened during the Spanish Flu pandemic…. and we are going the same way, so we may be in this for the long haul. The ones that will make it are the ones that take care of themselves. And, yes these are scary times, and I’m fearful, and I am living with it. I am doing what I can to make myself a little less fearful, and leaving the rest. As my friend said, “This is my first pandemic, I’m not sure how to behave.” We have to recognize our feelings, acknowledge them, and move on. The only way out is through!!

    1. Jenny Rose Post author

      Evidence seems to be unpopular among some just now. Last I checked, evidence was not the same as belief! These are indeed crazy times, but it helps to connect with people like you. Thank you for reading and commenting. I, too, am anxious and fearful, and it seems to me that’s a rational response to this deadly pandemic. However, as you say, we don’t need to let those feelings control us, and I think it’s healthy to share our experience with others. It comforts us all and reminds us we’re not alone. Take care and be well.

  3. Lyn Swan

    Thanks Jenny, for this succinctly and beautiful written piece. It seems that people believe what they will, no matter what. My friend, who is recuperating from COVID 19, will attest to the brutality of this illness, and wishes that all will take whatever precautions they can to prevent their becoming infected, and to prevent infecting others.

    1. Jenny Rose Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Lyn. I was wondering if all I would get was hate on this one! I agree, some people are not interested in considering another point of view or taking in new information. We have friends who have had this virus too, and it’s brutal. Of course we want to do everything we can to keep ourselves and others safe. I can’t imagine how it must sound to healthcare workers and friends and families of those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 when people tell them it’s not real.

  4. Dawn Katz

    I loved this post. I feel anxiety and fear all the time and do my best to cope and move forward, despite the virus. I see absolutely no harm in wearing the mask if it can help even 1 person from spreading or catching the virus. I also am willing to socially distance to protect myself or others. If there is a slight chance it can help, I’ll do it! We’re all in the same boat, so to speak!

    1. Jenny Rose Post author

      Oh, Dawn, me too–the fear and anxiety and the simple logic of wearing a mask. If I’m wrong, and the “evidence” (science) I’m reading is all wrong, wearing a mask hurts absolutely no one. Why wouldn’t we do whatever we could to help this situation? If the science we’re reading is correct, why wouldn’t we do everything we can to save lives? And if the virus was engineered and deliberately released into the world, who cares? We have to deal with it. I don’t have time or energy to argue conspiracy theories with people. As always, thanks for reading and commenting.

  5. Deb Nielsen

    Thanks Jenny for another thoughtful post. I shared it on FB. 🙂 So interesting what people take to be “evidence” lately. Some days I feel like I’m being gaslighted by the universe lol. Always enjoy reading your posts which assure me I’m not alone!

    1. Jenny Rose Post author

      Thank you, Deb, for sharing this with others. We are not alone. Yes, “evidence” evidently includes all of it–facts and “alternative facts.” Yikes! Take care and stay well.


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